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Kenya: Fighting COVID-19, one mural at a time

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A graffiti artist in Kenya has been taking it upon himself to teach people about COVID-19, and urging the public to adhere to the country's coronavirus regulations through his art.

At a backstreet in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, the 25 year old Sammy Mwangi, also known as Sermon, is allowing his creative juices to flow. The young man is a graffiti artist who picks nondescript spaces and turns them into canvases for his art.

"For this COVID season I have been doing what's based on COVID simply to sensitize the community about the seriousness of this ailment that is ailing the country right now. The yellow and the green are sensational colors, they tend to draw attention more quickly to the masses. It does also grow again into more like a job, in terms of like I am being commissioned. I have done so many commissions of graffiti like hotels, like people's houses," said Sermon.

Sermon said he started at the age of 15, and with nothing else but curiosity, determination and a few cans of paint, he fell in love with graffiti.

"I had been an artistic child all my life, I was told that by my mom. But by the day I found my neighbor's drawing book I really got fascinated by the different letters that he was doing. And as a child, you are like, 'wow, this is really interesting,'" he said.

The artist said that coloring walls was a childhood game that later evolved into a valuable skill. He also adopted word forms, which is graffiti that stylizes words.

"It took me roughly seven years to master even just a bit of it. So for me graffiti I started out as a fun kind of hobby and then overtime, I have actually started diving more into conceptual work," he said.

During the coronavirus outbreak, Sermon is not the only one trying to get a message across to the community. Images like the work of Sermon have become common in Nairobi, showing how graffiti artists are trying to raise awareness around COVID-19 through their gifts.

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